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3.8 out of 5 stars26
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 16 September 2006
Forget all the commments you've heard about this being the Japanese Grand Theft Auto, or a successor to Shenmue.

There's elements of both those games, but think more Grand Theft Streets of Rage. Shenmue comparisons are easy. You do wander round a virtual world, there's a strong plot, some fierce brawling, the ability to level-up or increase your range of fighting skills and, yes, you can gamble and play mini-games rather than pursue the main game.

But, unlike Shenmue this game keeps the action up constantly, with fighters waiting to accost you on every street corner. The action is much more bloody and brutal too, with some truly grusome finishing moves at your disposal.

As befits the game's 18 certificate it's also a wonderfully sleazy affair, chock full of swearing, sex and sleaze. Characters spew profanity with wild abandon and the hostess bars can soak up hours of game time and all your character's Yen.

The whole game is highly polished and visually stunning. With almost no load-times as you patrol night-time Tokyo and a beautiful neon glow coating every surface.

It's taken a long while for the PS2 to truly mature, and this is a perfect example of why you shouldn't care that the PS3's release date has been put back, you get more time to enjoy wonderful games like this.
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on 8 August 2007
I bought this game totally blind , i read no reviews and took a chance, I have to say im pleasantly surprised . Ok the fights are repetative but the story is very involving and well thought out, the best thing about this game though is Yakuza himself,he is a beast, a fighting machine, hes great if you learn all the moves, overall a good buy for me ,hope you enjoy as well...
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on 7 September 2009
As it doesn't seem sega are going to continue the great Shenmue "Series" they started on the Dreamcast, I was interested to see this game using a similar engine to the former.
Although now used to the stunning HD graphics we have with PS3 and xbox, does it seem fair to be writing a review for such a now-old game on an old system?
True, this game has had two sequels, so they must be doing something right!

The graphics are pretty good, nice and colourful for ps2 standard, my main criticism of presentation, is some (not all) of the quality of voice acting, with talent like Michael Madsen providing the voice of shimano, it's a shame that it is coupled with the cheesey american over-acting synonymous with Disney films, and movie dubs. I would have much preferred Japanese voice with subtitle.

That is a minor niggle, main gripe is camera angle swings a bit too suddenly for my liking, you can be running away from an enemy, when the screen flips, and you find yourself suddenly running right into them!

Good atmosphere, and the fact you can pick it up so cheaply now, it will provide you with quite some enjoyment, and you will certainly get your money's worth!
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on 17 September 2006
Played this game in Japan and have to say I loved it. You play a young Yakuza who has been done over by the bosses. After a spell in jail you are free and out on the streets trying to find out what went wrong. Explore the shops, hostess bars and dingy corners of a major Japanese city and find out who stabbed you in the beack. Game play is repetetive but great fun - the story is deep and engaging! A great game all in all.
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on 21 September 2006
The magazines have hyped this as the Japanese equivalent of GTA-but in my own opinion, morally, this is a million miles away from GTA (except for extreme use of language.)

The game focuses on a young man by the name of Kazuma, a member of the Yakuzas who takes the rap for the death of it's leader (when it was his brother) and goes to prison for ten years. Ten years later, he wants to know what has happened to his long standing girlfriend and what has happened to his brother. This is all revealed in the opening of the game, so hopefully it gives nothing away.

Graphically, I really like this game because of a number of reasons-the first are the people and their use of facial expressions. I know it's a petty thing, but I like the way you can easily identify with how they're feeling. Secondly, obviously are locations. It is clear a lot of effort went in to designing the city, the places you can go, the people walking up and down the street and of course the vehicles.

The gameplay is very mixed. Some of the game expects you to complete objectives by going to different places, and often times this will result in a fight. The fighting is excellent. The use of throws, punches, kicks and combos give this a genuine quality feel. What makes this even better is the chance to upgrade your attacks, your life, and your guarding abilities and this gives it an RPG feel to the game as well. Whilst this makes up the majority of the gameplay, the game also has a rather gentile side to it, when it expects you to feed dogs, look after children, and basically be a nice guy. I suppose this is the main distinction between Yakuza and GTA-the moral side.

A nice touch to this game are the shops and local "attractions" that are darted around. Unfortunately, this will make the game unsuitable for children-hence the 18 certificate.

So problems? What my fear for this game is that it won't go far enough for those who love the in-your-face no logic for violence, GTA. But for those who oppose that-this will go too far. My fear is that this is stuck in the middle and doomed to die. I plead you do not let this happen-get the game, you'll see how rewarding it is for yourself.
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on 11 October 2006
When I heard that this was gonna be just another GTA clone I was'nt really that interested in this game, but when read a review say that it had similarities with Shenmue & Streets of Rage ( two of my favorite games ) then I had to buy it.

The first thing that hits you about this game is the graphics, which are some of the best on PS2. All of the characters, backgrounds etc look fantastic and really add to the experience. The same has to be said for the music and sound effects. For once in a Sega game the music is great and can really get adrenaline going, Especially during some the games awesome fight sequences.

Speaking of the fighting you get use your martial arts skills and all sorts of weaponry on anyone foolish enough to approach you looking for trouble. These random battle sections are like Final Fantasy but play like a remake of Streets of Rage ( c'mon sega you know you want to do a new SOR )!

However the main thing that keeps you playing Yakuza is the Story. Basically you start off as a young yakuza who wants to start his own family but after taking the blame for the murder of a yakuza godfather for his brother, Kazuma gets sent to jail for 10 years. After serving time he returns to find that his brother has started his own family by screwing Kazuma over. On top of that 10 billion yen gone missing and its up Kazuma to sort this mess out.

The game isn't without its faults though. Despite having an all star cast the voice acting isn't that great, and for a Yakuza Gangster Kazuma seems to be to much of an OK guy. The game could have done with a Knigts of the Old Republic style good/evil outcome. It also isn't as free roaming as Shenmue or a GTA title and sometimes its just a case of go here and do this. It just falls short of Shenmue/KOTOR greatness but if Sega can iron these few faults out for a sequel then it could have another classic series on its hand.
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on 22 July 2012
Yakuza as a game focuses more on story rather than it's gameplay, this becomes apparent quick during most fighting segments once you have to deal with frustrating and clunky controls, but even with the game's heavy faults, it hold enough charm to keep you entertained all throughout.

The Story revolves around Kazuma, a Yakuza strongman well known in his area for being a hard fighter, until he is sent to prison for a crime he did not commit, when he is released the families are falling apart and many rivalries have started due to the sudden disappearance of 10 billion Yen.

The Story of the game is fairly entertaining with twists and turns throughout, and the dubbing is fairly well done for its time, with a few notable voices showing up here and there. The setting is Japan and heavy in the influence, mannerism and titles are in the original language baking the dubbing sound awkward at times, choosing to go with subs rather than a dub in future titles does in fact make more sense, even when the dubbing for this title was good.

Gameplay is fun at times frustrating at others, since the game does focus on combat and brawling, it's a shame more attention was not put into to it, more often than not you will be locked in a combo animation having an enemy dodge you on the first attack, or have a boss battle use cheap moves. It can be helped by levelling up your abilities but the slow pace of fighting and the clunky controls are always there until the end. However, the game is chocked full of sidequests and minigames and this is where the game truly shines. Branching off the path and finding things to do is the main charm of this game, and it's where you really see the city come to life.

If a good story is your thing, you like Japanese culture, RPG elements, sidequests and minigames, this might be worth a look.
However if you hate clunky controls, slow moving characters, some load times (there are plenty) and are easily frustrated then you might want to avoid this title.

Personally I really enjoyed this game, it has good cinematography and character development, my only complaint is how often F bombs are dropped, it's very rare to go through and line in this game without some curse popping up, and considering this is a story heavy game that is all to frequent.
As of right now I'm playing Yakuza 2 (PS2), and most of the issues of this game have been fixed. Combat is certainly better and load times are shorter, and the character moves at a faster pace. Along with a recap of the events of the first game, you could skip it entirely since so far most of the minigames make a comeback.
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on 26 October 2006
I know my title sounds a little negative, but that doesnt mean i think Yakuza is a bad game. Now on to Yakuza the story its self is very well directed however very similar to that of the Gungrave anime series (anyone whos seen it would know what i mean) in short, you play a big time Yakuza member called Kazuya Kiryu who is the most feared member of the "Dojima Family". He carries the nick name of "The Dragon of Dojima" because of his notorious reputation. On the verge of starting his own Yakuza family Kazuya an orphan, takes the heat for a friend he grew up with at an orphanage called Nishiki, who murdered the head of the Dojima family. Kazuya goes down for 10 years and when released from prison is looking to piece his life back together. The game its self is very atmospheric, you feel a real sense of night life Japan. This game is so similar to Shenmue but a watered down version. For one the fighting system of this game is ok, but a little repetitive and no where near as deep as Shenmue although alot of the moves are taken from the game, sadly you'll find your self doing the same 2 button combos throughout the game which i felt ruined what could have been a good fighting system similar to Jade Empire. One strange feature of this game is the random fights that occur, similar to those in turn based RPG's accept the fights are in real time, but just like those RPG's the fights are all too frequent.
Yakuza tells the tale in chapters, in which each chapter has the main quest as well as some side quests. Completing the maing quest of that chapter proceeds you to the next but stops you from being able to complete the side quests from the previous chapter. So if you wanna get the most out of the game its good to do some of the side quests, although the games main adventure is very lengthy as it is. Visually Yakuza is one of the best looking games on the PS2, but as a hardcore gamer i hate to just try and sell a game on its graphics, i think Yakuza's main selling point is its sense of style and atmosphere that it creates, the city the game is set in actually feels really alive. As for music, well its fits the game but i would have preferred some Yuzo Koshiro masterpieces on this game.

Yakuza tells a good story. Not only that, it backs it up with a satisfying combat system and one of the most atmospheric gameworlds so far this year. It takes something as traditional as third person brawling and blends it with a lengthy adventure filled with interesting characters, side-quests and a great sense of style. Fighting can get tedious at times, but furthering the story and uncovering the city's secrets make it worth the effort.
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on 2 July 2013
Ever since my dad brought home Yakuza 3 I've been in love with this game. I am currently looking to buy the whole series since the storyline and characters are amazing and I wanted to backtrack to Yakuza 1, where it all started and play from beginning to end. Though I'm waiting for Yakuza 5 to be localised. Since it's PS2 it's obvious the graphics won't be as good but still amazing since the storyline makes you forget all that. The only problem I had with this is not so much the game but the disc I received.. The back was all scratched up although it's still playable..but for the amount I paid I was expecting some marks but not as many as I have actually got on my current disc.
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on 2 January 2007
What could have been a relatively entertaining game is let down by a number of frustrating features. Top of the list is the constant loading (in the first hour of play I think I was actually involved in the action for roughly 10 minutes). The cut scenes are ponderous in the extreme and the interesting plot takes an age to develop, resulting in repetitive missions (the first 4 chapters translate to a pub crawl around the city -Go to Serena bar, go to Ares bar, go to Bacchus bar etc etc). Real-life Tokyo looks nice but is very limited in the areas that you can actual explore. Perhaps worse of all, the fight system is frustrating and limited. Even after several hours play, you are still left with a few basic moves that quickly become repetitive. Not only that but the lack of a proper targeting system frequently leaves you howling in frustration as you try and keep your hard man facing in the right direction. Again, it is a game that looks polished but lacks the crucial element of playability. What's frustrating is that you figure proper play testing would have identified almost all of these problems.
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